On October 24, 2009, 800 students and workers met to decide how to work together against the budget cuts. It was decided that March 4 would be a day of strikes and a day of action. This formulation of “strike and day of action” was incredibly ambiguous and has had consequences for the movement, mainly coming in the form of most unions passing watered-down resolutions that say nothing of a strike but abstractly support March 4 as some type of day of action. Concretly this has led to unions to tell their members that March 4 will be like any other day of work except there will be an after work rally at 5pm in downtown SF. A movement of workers pushing for strikes in unified way could be the real beggining of a resistance that produces confidence and concsioussness against these attacks, but this has not materialized for several reasons.
Fundamentally there is a lack of worker militants in major workplaces who have the type of influence needed to push for strikes. The result is that the various left-organizations have been trying to work around this problem by acting as substitutes for absent worker militants. This lack of worker militants, combined with a hesitancy on the part of leftists to push for militant methods of struggle in fear of being marginalized, has not done much to change the composition of left politics in California . . . With that said there is one seriously notable exception, and that is the AFSCME 444 resolution.
The resolution clearly states that the union should push for, contribute resources to, and participate in a strike. If the militant left was stronger, we could have thousands of copies out in the hands of union members and may have already pushed for several locals to endorse the resolution.
Unfortunately, many of the left organizations that claim to be for a strike have been unwilling to propose such a resolution to their respective unions due to a fatalistic logic that such unions will automatically reject the resolution, so trying to pass it will only create political isolation. Such logic misses the point. Proposing a strike to the unions will open up the discussion of the merits and importance of strikes as methods of struggle to the ranks and expose the political nature of the leadership of such unions who will reject the resolution.
As of now, only East Bay Carpenters local 713 and Oakland chapter of Association of Raza Educators (ARE) have endorsed such resolutions (Oakland go!) with many other unions endorsing a watered-down resolution that ignores the call for a strike.
The left should give the worthy credit to the militants in Labors Militant Voice for creating and pushing the resolution amongst AFSCME and the Carpenters Union. Other groups who call for strikes but dont really push them should begin to think critically about their own contradictions. Political clarity in labor struggles is central as bureaucracies, whether they be unions or the state, will coopt ambigious and contradictory political messages. We should give credit to AFSCME 444 resolutions for shining light on our path of struggle and not falling in this trap.
Read the resolution here: https://advancethestruggle.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/444_mrch4th_res.pdf